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Fit for the Conference?

Reading maketh a full man,
conference a ready man

Some of you will be there already. Some of you are making your way there today. Others, like me, will be juggling work, childcare commitments and flight times and getting there at the last minute tomorrow.

I’m talking, of course, about this year’s All-Industry Conference which starts in earnest on the terrace of the Tivoli Marina in Vilamoura.

It’s the first conference to be run solely by the BMF since Spain in 2004 and they have pulled out all the stops with the business sessions to make sure there is something of interest to every delegate.

In this industry, by and large, if it’s June, it must be the conference. We had the BMF conference for many, many years, followed by THE Conference – the all-industry event run by BMF, NMBS, Unimer and BMJ – and then a gap when no-one in their right mind could justify spending any time or money on such an event.

NMBS took a leap of faith when they launched their 2012 conference, with the BMF agreeing to postpone theirs until this year, and the buzz on that first night last year showed just how much the industry had missed the event.

There aren’t many events where merchants can see most of their major suppliers and suppliers can see most of their major customers in that close-knit a community for that long.

For an industry which relies so heavily on personal relationships, it’s hard to put a price on being able to see so many like-minded people all together, all fixed on finding out something that will help their business. Particularly when you think how much it costs to fill the car up with petrol these days.

Admittedly, it can take new conference attendees a while to get used to the idea of a serious business conversation taking place in shorts and T-shirts by the pool. And there may only be 15 minutes or so at each focused Meet the Merchant slot, but most of the time those meetings are continued in the bar or at dinner that night or in the coffee-breaks, the lift, the tennis court, the changeover from seminar sessions, at check-out, on the bus to the airport….

The conference sessions are, clearly, an important part of the event. This year the timetable is jam-packed with business speakers and speakers from this business, all aiming to meet the brief of helping the merchants and suppliers ensure they are Fit for The Future.

I’ve always thought that if you come back with one idea that can help to improve the business then the trip will have been worth it. Combine that with the chance to chat to peers in similar businesses in different parts of the country or focussing on different on a different part of the industry and you have a winner.

BMJ, as usual, will be playing a major part in the communications. Anyone who hasn’t managed to get away for the three days can follow the action on our live blog https://buildersmerchantsjournal.net/Portugal2013/ and comment there or follow the event on Twitter with the hashtag #fitforthefuture.

Right, where’s my passport? No, seriously, where’s my passport……

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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